The two Congos, strikingly similar in name, are also strikingly similar in geography, weather and unrest. The Republic of the Congo is improving more rapidly, but stable peace is still illusory.

Given a choice between the two, your travel plans should include the Republic of the Congo over the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but things are not improving as much as travelers, aid workers, and tourism bureaus would like.

What to do

The two main cities are the inland capital Brazzaville and coastal Pointe Noire. Brazzaville is a city trying to recover from the last ten years of violence and war. Although it was once developed and a nice place to stay, the infrastructure and tourism industry have faltered. Still, it is a place to stay between Pointe Noire and a tour of the rainforests.

Pointe Noire is the coastal community widely considered the top tourism spot in the Republic of Congo.

Getting there

You'll find beaches and islands in Pointe Noire, but getting to the city can be a bit of a challenge. It is recommended that you fly from Brazzavile to Pointe Noire because traveling by car or train leaves you vulnerable to theft and bandits that are common on the route between the two. Most international flights arrive and depart from Brazzaville.

Where to stay

The hotels in the Republic of the Congo are very nice if you can afford their rates. Guest accommodations are not as cheap as you might think for a country that gets so few tourists. Hostels, on the other hand, are not up to the standards of quality that many travelers have come to expect from their lodging.